Naldo: It’s not a burden, it’s a reward.
During the training camp in Mittersill, Domenico Tedesco has named Naldo his vice-captain. The Brazilian defender spoke to schalke04.de about the great honour in what he describes as an “unbelievable team”. He also discussed the Royal Blues’ shining strength, and why he doesn’t agree with people talking about this season's 'triple burden'.
Naldo, runners-up in the league and so close to the final of the DFB-Pokal. The 2017/18 season couldn’t really have gone any better. What was the team’s greatest strength in your view?
We played as a real team. Our relationships with each other are superb. We help one another and everyone has their teammates’ interests in mind as well as their own. I enjoy being a part of this team every single day.
You were one of the leaders on the pitch last season. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that Domenico Tedesco made you vice-captain to Ralf Fährmann while in Mittersill.
I’m delighted to have the trust of the coach and the team. It’s an honour! But I said right after the appointment that we’re all captains. Every one of us should and must take responsibility on and off the pitch.
With Salif Sané, you have a centre back partner who is just as tall as you! Plenty of pundits have suggested that your opponents shouldn’t even bother putting in crosses?
Yeh I’ve heard that one (laughs). Salif is a great man – in terms of his football and demeanor. He had a great last season with Hannover 96. He was a hugely important player indeed. I hope he established himself quickly. I’m convinced that Salif will inject even more fun into the team and greatly strengthen our squad.
We’re all captains. Every one of us should and must take responsibility on and off the pitch.
Also new to the team are Omar Mascarell, Suat Serdar, Steven Skrzybski and Mark Uth. What’s your first impression of the four new faces?
They’re great. We as a team have made them feel right at home, whilst they’ve also integrated themselves really well. It’s not a big challenge with us, however, because we’re such an open group.
The team spirit is there for all to see on the pitch. Are you up to where you want to be in terms of the preseason schedule?
We’re definitely up to speed. We’ve been training hard and have focused well over the last few weeks. Everyone who has come to watch us train will know that. We’ll apply the final touches before the competitive season kicks off. The friendly against Fiorentina at the VELTINS-Arena will be a good opportunity. After almost three months without a match, our ground is certainly ready for some football.
As well as the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal, you face a Champions League campaign. How does that shake things up for you?
I keep reading about how we have a triple burden ahead of us. I see things a little differently. The Champions League is a bonus for us, a reward. We have more games than last year, granted, but I’m convinced that we can keep giving a good performance every three or four days. Our coach will get the measures right for training sessions and prepare us as best he can. It will be after away games in the Champions League were we’ll have to recover particularly quickly. Yet we have a big squad with plenty of quality. Should we have a tough schedule, we won’t be using the ‘English week’ as an excuse.